Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Misfolded Proteins: The Fundamental Problem Is Aging

Date:
August 27, 2009
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Proteins are essential for all biological activities and the cell's health. Misfolded and damaged proteins spell trouble and are common to all human neurodegenerative diseases and many other age-associated diseases. But when do proteins start to misbehave? Researchers report that protein damage can be detected much earlier than we had thought, long before individuals exhibit symptoms. But their study also suggests if we intervene early enough, the damage could be delayed.

Proteins are essential for all biological activities and the health of the cell. Misfolded and damaged proteins spell trouble and are common to all human neurodegenerative diseases and many other age-associated diseases. But when during a lifespan do proteins start to misbehave?

Related Articles


A new Northwestern University study reports that protein damage can be detected much earlier than we had thought, long before individuals exhibit symptoms. But the study also suggests if we intervene early enough, the damage could be delayed.

In studying seven different proteins of the worm C. elegans, the researchers discovered that each protein misfolds at the same point: during early adulthood and long before the animal shows any behavioral, or physiological, change. (Each protein had a minor mutation that affects folding.)

The misfolding coincided with the loss of a critical protective cellular mechanism: the ability to activate the heat shock response, an ancient genetic switch that senses damaged proteins and protects cells by preventing protein misfolding.

The results will be published online during the week of Aug. 24 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"I didn't expect the results to be so dramatic, for these different proteins that vary in concentration and are expressed in diverse tissues to collapse at the same time," said lead researcher Richard I. Morimoto. "This suggests the animal's protective cellular stress response becomes deficient during aging."

Could the damaging events of protein misfolding be prevented or at least delayed?

To find out, the researchers gave the animals the equivalent of a vitamin, boosting the heat shock response early in the animal's development, prior to protein damage. Now, instead of misfolding around day four, the equivalent of early adulthood in the worm, the proteins didn't start misfolding until day 12. (Behavioral changes didn't appear for at least three days after misfolding. The average lifespan of the worm is 21 days.)

"Our data suggest that, in terms of therapeutics, you have to start early to prevent damage and keep cells healthy," said Morimoto, Bill and Gayle Cook Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "When you see a loss of function, it's too late."

Genes that regulate lifespan were first discovered in C. elegans. The transparent roundworm is a favorite organism of biologists because its biochemical environment and fundamental mechanisms are similar to that of human beings and its genome, or complete genetic sequence, is known.

The title of the PNAS paper is "Collapse of Proteostasis Represents an Early Molecular Event in C. elegans Aging." In addition to Morimoto, other authors of the paper are Anat Ben-Zvi and Elizabeth A. Miller, both from Northwestern.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Misfolded Proteins: The Fundamental Problem Is Aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151251.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2009, August 27). Misfolded Proteins: The Fundamental Problem Is Aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151251.htm
Northwestern University. "Misfolded Proteins: The Fundamental Problem Is Aging." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151251.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins